Friday, June 06, 2008

Fibromyalgia Patients, Lyrica, and Social Security Disability

When I was a disability examiner, I found it fairly common for other examiners to ridicule certain impairments such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Every time I heard a derisive comment from another examiner about FMS, it would occur to me that if a significant percentage of examiners in all the various disability processing agencies (each state has at least one agency devoted to making disability determinations for the social security administration--in my state, this agency is called DDS, or disability determination services) felt this way, then it was no wonder that fibromyalgia claimants had an uphill battle when it came to filing for disability.

It was probably for this reason that I really sat up and took notice the first time that I saw a commercial for Lyrica, the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia. One thing jumped into my head when I saw the first commercial was this: legitimacy.

Legitimacy is an important concept for disability claims because even though the disability claim process is, on paper, an objective and logical one, in actuality it isn't. The truth is (anyone who has ever worked inside the system knows this) that the system is actually fairly subjective and can be manipulated according to the perceptions and biases of the individuals who work within it, such as examiners, their supervisors, and the medical physicians and psychiatrists who lend support to examiners. For this reason, fibromyalgia claims have probably received short shrift in many cases simply because it hasn't been taken seriously.

Enter the drug Lyrica. Lyrica, whether it turns out to be effective in the long run, or not, provides legitimacy to fibromyalgia cases. Because once you can define a treatment regimen for a condition, the condition receives a measure of validity.

Fortunately, though, the news so far is that Lyrica is effective in reducing pain in fibromyalgia patients (according to the results of three controlled studies involving more than two thousand patients). Notably, the reductions in pain have been associated more with improvements in sleep than with improvements in anxiety or depression.

Why is this significant? Two reasons. First, fibromyalgia has been thought to be linked to sleep deficits. Basically, an inability to achieve enough deep level delta stage sleep may prevent the body from repairing itself, resulting in pain. Second, too many individuals have written FMS off as some byproduct of anxiety and mood disorders. And, yes, I've heard many social security disability examiners make statements to this effect.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Prior Posts

Who qualifies for disability
Social Security Disability Requirements
Social Security Disability Requirements and Eligibility
Social Security Disability List of Impairments


Blogger 1tiredmomma said...

thank you for this information! good things to know.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Thanks for stopping by. I stopped by your own blog and, as I said in my comment, you have a lot to deal with. Btw, I like your taste in movies.

7:58 PM  
Blogger 1tiredmomma said...

thanks. Sorry I tend to ramble. Guess I have some "fog".
Ang :)

8:20 PM  
Blogger EDUCATED & ANNOYED said...

I have never typed in a comment on any blog- or anything before. I felt that this was such an important blog to get out information about fibromyalgia. I have been beating my head against the wall with doctors for years. I started going to the doctor many years ago explaining how awful I felt... finally a year ago I was told by a doctor that I probably have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue- but that I shouldn't want the diagnosis for insurance reasons. In other words no insurance company will accept you after- then she asked if the only reason I wanted the diagnosis was to get disability. How crazy!! I just want to feel better so I can go to work like normal people!!

1:25 AM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

I know exactly what you mean. Insurance companies get away with murder when it comes to pre-existing conditions. Hopefully, that will be improving in the near future.

9:51 AM  

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